• Guns & terrorismNYPD commissioner to Congress: Do not allow people on terror watch list from buying guns

    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton the other day called on Congress today to “start getting serious” about fixing the loophole which allows individuals on the U.S. terror watch list legally to purchase firearms in the United States. Bratton said: “If Congress really wants to do something instead of just talking about something, help us out with that terrorist watch list, those thousands of people that can purchase firearms in this country. I’m more worried about them than I am about Syrian refugees.”

  • Terrorism appN.Y. State Police app helps citizens report suspicious activity

    The New York State Police is urging citizens to download a new digital app which allows citizens to capture and report suspicious activity with their smart phones. The app is part of the “See Something, Send Something” campaign which aims to turn willing citizens into the eyes and ears of law enforcement. For example, if a citizen notices an unattended package at a train station of an airport, they could use the app to alert law enforcement.

  • Terror in Paris2 dead, 7 arrested in French police raid on apartment building in search of attacks’ mastermind

    About 200 members of the special units of the French police early Wednesday morning (Paris time) swooped on the Parisian banlieue, or suburb, of Saint-Denis – where the Stade de France, one of the sites of Friday’s terrorist attacks, is located – and arrested seven people. Two people were killed. One of the dead was a young woman who blew herself up with a suicide vest. French Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the operation was a result of a credible tip — in all likelihood, a police informer who resides in the neighborhood — suggesting Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, was holed up in an apartment in a residential building.

  • Terror in ParisU.K. put special British police unit on standby in the wake of Paris attacks

    In the early hours of Saturday, following the previous evening’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the British government put a special British police unit on standby for an emergency national mobilization of officers. The move was a precautionary measure taken as the government weighed placing the United Kingdom on its highest state of terrorist alert. There are forty-three local police forces in England and Wales, and raising the terrorist threat level to critical — the highest would have triggered the dispatching of officers from some of these local forces patrol sites and neighborhood in the country’s big cities.

  • Suspicious activityBerkeley modifies Suspicious Activity Reports guidelines

    The Berkeley City Council members said in a meeting last week that Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), an initiative of the DHS which, through regional and national agencies, disseminates to local law enforcement information on possible terrorist threats, has the potential of criminalizing innocent people. Members of the council agreed that in order to prevent hurting innocent people, the council should adopt a Police Review Commission recommendation to modify Berkeley Police Department orders on Suspicious Activity Reporting. The modification aims to make sure that SARs can be filed “only if there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal conduct.”

  • ForensicsSteam thermography may compete with luminol in solving crimes

    Luminol gets trotted out pretty frequently on TV crime shows, but a new technique might someday compete with the storied forensics tool as a police procedural plot device and, perhaps more importantly, as a means of solving real crimes. Researchers developed what they term “steam thermography,” which has the ability to detect blood spots in all kinds of spots — even in spots where luminol cannot.

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  • MexicoMexico to use drones, satellites in a renewed effort to find dead students

    Mexico said it would launch a new search, joined by international experts, for the remains of dozens of students training to be teachers who were abducted and apparently massacred in 2014. Forty-three students were abducted by corrupt municipal police, and then turned over to a local drug gang to be killed. Apparently, the gang leaders believed the students were linked to a rival drug gang in the area.

  • Domestic terrorismJustice Department created new office to focus on domestic terrorists

    The Justice Department said this week that it has created a new office which would on homegrown extremists. Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin announced the move on Wednesday. He said the new office, the Domestic Terrorism Counsel, will be the main point of contact for federal prosecutors working on domestic terrorism cases. Carlin said the new office was created “in recognition of a growing number of potential domestic terrorism matters around the United States.” Following the 9/11 attacks, U.S. law enforcement had shifted its attention, and the allocation of law enforcement and intelligence resources, from domestic to foreign terrorism. The result, security experts say, was that federal authorities had lost sight of domestic extremists. “Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the United States. We recognize that, over the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups,” Carlin said.

  • CrimePredictive policing substantially reduces crime in Los Angeles during 21-month period

    Can math help keep our streets safer? A new study by a UCLA-led team of scholars and law enforcement officials suggests the answer is yes. A mathematical model they devised to guide where the Los Angeles Police Department should deploy officers, led to substantially lower crime rates during a recent 21-month period. The model was so successful that the LAPD has adopted it for use in 14 of its 21 divisions, up from three in 2013.

  • CrimeAn app alerts people, law enforcement about potential crime risk

    You are walking home after a night out on a dark autumn evening. Suddenly, you get the feeling that someone is following you. You look over your shoulder, and see a shadow between the trees in the park. You quicken your steps. When you glance behind you again, you see the shadow disappear in between two houses. This is when you could press the “help” button on the app that you have downloaded. It sends a message to everyone in the area who also has the app, with information about your phone number and where you are. This way they are able to call you, alert emergency services, or get to your location if need be. The app has been developed by a group of student entrepreneurs.

  • TerrorismDissident republican terror attack “highly likely”: Northern Ireland police

    Will Kerr, Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable, said on Thursday that the threat from the New IRA, Continuity IRA, and Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) was at present severe, and that a dissident republican terror attack is “highly likely.” Kerr said the main armed republican groups which oppose the ceasefire would aim to ramp up their violence ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising against British rule in 2016. He noted that the republican dissidents had honed their skills and improved their rocket and bomb-making technology by studying improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

  • Forensics Forensic facial examiners can be near perfect

    In what might be the first face-off of its kind, trained forensics examiners from the FBI and law enforcement agencies worldwide were far more accurate in identifying faces in photographs than nonexperts and even computers. The new assessment provides “the first strong evidence that facial forensic examiners are better at face recognition than the rest of us,” says a face recognition researcher.

  • CrimeCriminals acquire guns through social connections, not through theft or dirty dealers

    Criminals are far more likely to acquire guns from family and acquaintances than by theft, according to two new studies. “There are a number of myths about how criminals get their guns, such as most of them are stolen or come from dirty dealers. We didn’t find that to be the case,” says one of the researchers.

  • Public healthTwo states changes gun laws, and suicide-by-firearm rates in the two states shift

    A new study examining changes in gun policy in two states finds that handgun purchaser licensing requirements influence suicide rates. Researchers estimate that Connecticut’s 1995 law requiring individuals to obtain a permit or license to purchase a handgun after passing a background check was associated with a 15.4 percent reduction in firearm suicide rates, while Missouri’s repeal of its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007 was associated with a 16.1 percent increase in firearm suicide rates.

  • School shootingNew personality profiling technique helps identify potential school shooters

    Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have developed a personality profiling technique which automates the identification of potential school shooters by analyzing personality traits that appear in their writings. The text-based computational personality-profiling tool uses “vector semantics.” This involves constructing a number of vectors representing personality dimensions and disorders, which are analyzed automatically by computer to measure the similarity with texts written by the human subject.